Let me count the waves

BAE Systems has completed work on what has been described as the world’s largest and most capable ionospheric research facility.

The facility will be used to study interactions between high-power radio signals and the earth’s ionosphere, the part of the atmosphere between space and the Earth in which electrically charged atoms, or ions, reflect radio waves, making long-distance radio communication possible.

As the prime contractor for the US Defense Department’s High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) research station, BAE Systems designed and built the facility, operating software, and controls under a series of contracts valued at more than $250m from the Office of Naval Research.

The research station was dedicated yesterday in a ceremony held at the Gakona site. Construction of the station was jointly funded by the US Air Force, US Navy, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

It includes 360 radio transmitters with a combined power of 3.6 megawatts; 180, 20.7 metre tall antennas covering an area of 40 acres; and five large generators providing more than 16 megawatts of power.